How to Pay a Credit Card Bill
When it comes to credit cards, keeping on top of your bills is important to maintaining or building good credit. Considering that your payment history makes up a large part of your credit, even one late payment could negatively affect it.
The good news is that the act of paying your credit card bill doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, credit card issuers offer many ways you can submit payment. Let’s take a look at what your options are, and more details about what can happen if you end up making a late payment on your credit card.
Most, if not all, credit card issuers allow you to make credit card payments online.
There are different methods of transferring funds, including:
- Bill pay: Your bank may have this feature, where you use your checking account to transfer money to your credit card. The bank will likely have an autopay feature.
- ACH transfer: Much like bill pay, except you enter your banking details through your credit card issuer’s website. Information you’ll most likely need to include are your bank’s routing number, your account number, and the bank’s contact information.
- Wire transfer: Some credit card companies accept incoming wire transfers, whether that’s through your bank or money transfer services.
Depending on your individual situation, you can choose to pay online in different ways.
Set Up Autopay
Setting automatic payments from your bank account to your credit card each month is an easy way to handle your credit card bill. All you’re technically doing is setting something up, and you can virtually forget it.
To do so, follow the prompts on your credit card issuer’s website and head to the payments section. There, you’ll be able to find options on setting up autopay, including the date and amount you want to pay — it’s typically for the balance in full, the minimum payment due, or a fixed amount you choose.
When it comes to autopay, you still need to monitor your credit card account (we did mention about virtually forgetting automatic payments, not totally forgetting it). Sometimes, a payment may not go through correctly for a myriad of reasons, or there’s a fraudulent transaction you failed to notice on your credit card statement.
In these cases, you may want to consider setting up email or text alerts to let you know when a credit card statement is posted, the credit card’s due date, and when your payment is posted. Don’t forget to check your bank account regularly to ensure you have enough money to cover your monthly payments.
Through the App
If you’re not interested in making automatic payments, you can still make it easier on yourself by paying through your credit card or bank app if that option is available to you. It’s just like how you would do it by logging into your account online through your computer: indicate the amount you want to pay and use the bank account you’ve linked to your credit card account.
On the Phone
Paying your credit card bill over the phone entails giving the same information as you would with online payments, except you’re calling your credit card company instead. Make sure you gather all necessary information beforehand, such as your credit card account number, and banking information for your checking or savings account.
To find the right phone number to call, check the back of your credit card or your credit card statement. While many credit card issuers have a catch-all phone number for their customer service department and will transfer you to the right representatives, you can also consider digging around their website to see if there’s one specifically for credit card payments.
Pay in Person
You may be able to pay your credit card bill in person if your credit card issuing bank has brick and mortar locations or ATMs that will accept credit card payments. To do so, bring a copy of your credit card statement along with a method of payment and either speak with a representative, or follow the prompts on the ATM. In some cases, you can pay cash, but that’s not always the case.
Mail in Your Payment
Credit card statements usually have a section in which you can tear off a payment slip to pay by mail. On this pay slip it’ll have your account number and you can indicate the amount you want to pay. You can find the address to mail the payment to on your credit card statement.
Credit card issuers most likely won’t accept cash in the mail, but they do accept paper checks, and ACH information (if there is an option for that on the payment slip. If you receive paper statements, you may receive an envelope in which you can mail your payment.
What Happens If You Pay Credit Card Bills Late?
Paying a credit card late will cost you money. It will start with a late fee charged by the issuer and that is usually a flat fee that is outlined in the terms of the credit card. If payment continues unpaid, the issuer may increase your APR and also freeze the card so it can’t be used. Eventually, the bill will be turned over to a collection agency and this will affect your credit score.
But life happens. Sometimes you’re juggling so much that you end up forgetting about your credit card bill, or you make a payment that isn’t received by the credit card issuer by the due date. If that happens, your credit card issuer may charge you a late fee.
For late payments after a certain length of time, credit card issuers may start charging you a penalty APR, which is higher than your regular APR. Meaning, you could end up paying more in interest if you’re late on your payment.
Another consequence of late payments is that your credit score could be negatively affected. As mentioned earlier, payment history makes up around a third of credit scores. So your credit card company could report the late payment to the credit bureaus and lower your score.
To ensure late payments don’t happen, it’s important to take care of payments right away. That means understanding your credit card issuers billing cycle and when yours ends, which is usually between 20 and 45 days.
Once it’s the end of the billing cycle, you’ll get a statement in the method you choose, whether that’s electronically or by mail.
According to the law, credit card companies have to give their customers a minimum of 21 days between when the statement is given out and at least the minimum payment is due. The idea here is to give you enough time to decide on your method of payment and to pay part or all of your credit card balance.
Depending on how you pay and the time you make a payment, the credit card issuer will credit and post the amount to your account either the same or next business day when it receives the funds.
To ensure your credit card payment arrives on time, check to see when you should receive your credit card statement and what your approximate due date will be — it’s usually around the same time each month.
After reviewing your statement and ensuring there are no fraudulent transactions, submit your payment well before the due date so it increases the chances of the transaction being posted. You can also consider using a faster form or payment. In most cases, online bill payment or ACH transfers take the fastest, whereas mail payments tend to take the longest.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About How to Pay Credit Card Bills
We’ve rounded up the answers to the most frequently asked questions about how to pay credit card bills.
Technically, yes, you can pay a credit card with another credit card. For instance, you can take out a cash advance with one credit card to pay off another one. However, this is typically not a good idea because of the costs associated with it. For one, cash advances have no grace period so you'll be paying interest straight away, and the APR tends to be higher than the regular purchase APR.
You can also pay the bill with a balance transfer, where you transfer your credit card balance to another card. There are also fees involved and other requirements, so check with your credit card before making any moves.
You can avoid late payment fees for your credit card by ensuring you’re making on-time payments. It means keeping on top of your payment due date. Some people opt into automatic payments to ensure they’re not accidentally missing the due date.
It’s best to pay your credit card bill as soon as your statement comes in. As long as you make a payment and it posts to your account by the due date, you won’t risk consequences such as late payment fees.
Contributor Sarah Li-Cain is a personal finance writer based in Jacksonville, Florida, specializing in real estate, insurance, banking, loans and credit. She is the host of the Buzzsprout and Beyond the Dollar podcasts.